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Car bomb at rebel checkpoint in Syria's Afrin kills 13 — monitor

By AFP - Jul 12,2019 - Last updated at Jul 12,2019

People extinguish a fire at the scene of a car bomb explosion outside a church in the Kurdish-majority city of Qamishli in northeast Syria on Thursday (AFP photo)

BEIRUT — A car bomb near a checkpoint manned by Turkey-backed rebels in the northern Syrian city of Afrin killed 13 people including eight civilians Thursday, a war monitor said.

Turkish troops and their Syrian proxies took control of Afrin from Kurdish forces in March last year after a two-month air and ground offensive.

"The car bomb exploded near the checkpoint at the entrance to the town where vehicles were gathering to be checked," the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

Those killed also included four fighters and an unknown person, the observatory said.

"Among the victims, at least six are originally from Eastern Ghouta", a former rebel stronghold outside Damascus retaken by the regime last year, observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman said.

There was no immediate claim for the blast, which is the latest deadly explosion to rock the city.

In January, a bomb placed on a bus killed three people.

In December, a car bomb took the lives of nine people.

Since Turkish troops and pro-Ankara Arab rebels captured the town from the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), the United Nations and human rights groups, including Amnesty International, have documented widespread abuses.

The UN and Amnesty have also reported patterns of house appropriations by fighters and civilians bussed to Afrin during the surrender last year of Eastern Ghouta.

Half of the enclave’s 320,000 residents fled, according to a report by the UN Commission of Inquiry, and most are unable to return.

Turkey accuses the YPG of being “terrorists”, but the Kurdish militia also forms the backbone of a US-backed alliance fighting the Daesh terror group in Syria.

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